Happy Texas Independence Day!!
Those of you who usually read my blog posts just after they’re posted have probably noticed something: I am not a strong speller. (My loyal readers who wait a few hours or days to catch up get the benefit of the Leighto Greato Proofreading Intern.*) When I was a kid, people would always tell me to sound it out! as if that would solve the freaking problem. With my Texas drawl “independent” sounded out somewhere along the lines of “in-da-pin-dent.” And then people would look at me like I had tortillas for brains.
Fortunately, today I have tortillas for lunch, not for brains. And all in celebration of the anniversary of the Republic of Texas! The relevant timeline looks something like this:
In late 1835, Davey Crockett loses an election in Tennessee and declares that he is done with politics. Of his former constituents, he says: “They may all go to hell, and I will go to Texas.” And he does, and then he more or less goes straight to the Alamo, which was a small fort in the middle of nowhere. (Now it’s in the middle of San Antonio, across the street from a Fuddruckers, but it’s not that difficult to imagine it in the middle of nowhere.) On February 23, 1836, the mexican army initiates a siege on the fort. From there, things move pretty quickly. On March 2, about 150 miles east of the Alamo, at a site now known as Washington-On-The-Brazos (as in the Brazos River in East Texas, as compared to the lesser-known Washington-On-The-Potomac, aka Washington, D.C.), the Texas Declaration of Independence (nee Indapindence) is signed. On March 6, the Mexican army launches an assault on the Alamo and the fort falls that same day; General Santa Anna and his troops kill every single person at the fort, including ol’ Pottymouth Crockett. Just so everyone is clear here: the Texans lost the Battle of the Alamo. Remember the Alamo! is a verbal fist shake, not fist pump. Santa Anna and his troops march east, and are defeated a few weeks later by Sam Houston and the Texan army on April 21 at the battle of San Jacinto. About 10 years later, in 1845, Texas is annexed into the United States.
How’s that for a dose of Texas history? It’s a little bizarre to think that we celebrate Texas Independence Day when Texas is no longer independent, but I’ll take any excuse to make tacos for dinner. And can I just say that these carnitas tacos are revolution-worthy? The meat is slow cooked in a simple mix of orange juice, garlic, and cumin, until the meat is fall-apart tender and covered in a tangy-sweet gravy. With a pinch of pickled onions and some cilantro on warm tortillas, they are perfect for any ol’ celebration. This recipe is one of my oldest standards: it’s perfect for cooking ahead, or for a crowd, and makes the most delicious leftovers (and, hint hint, check back later this week to see how leftover carnitas can become freezer-friendly enchiladas in just a few minutes). So whether you can spell it or not:
Happy Texas Independence Day!
- 4 lb. boneless pork shoulder
- 16 oz. orange juice
- 6 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 T. cumin
- Salt and pepper
- url:4]Pickled onions[/url], cilantro leaves, and tortillas for serving
- Cut the pork butt into 1-2" cubes. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.
- Add pork, orange juice, garlic, and cumin to a dutch oven (I use this one and LOVE it!).
- Stir the pork and orange juice mixture to combine. Nestle the pork into the liquid, and add more water to cover the meat if necessary.
- Over high heat, bring the liquid up to a boil. Reduce to the gentlest simmer, and allow to cook for 2 hours without stirring or disturbing the meat.
- After two hours, stir the meat and turn the heat up to a lively simmer. Allow to cook for 45 minutes or so, until all the liquid has evaporated off. The pork will render its own fat, and sizzle and brown in that once the liquid has all gone.
- Serve the carnitas with warm tortillas, pickled onions, and cilantro leaves.
*My Proofreading Intern is obviously The Boyfriend. Just wanted to trick y’all into thinking I had an intern. That was fun, right?